A tremendous journey in the field of nuclear energy and India’s nuclear research has been embarked upon by India. Since achieving independence in 1947, significant progress has been made by the country in harnessing the power of nuclear energy for both civilian and strategic reasons. In this blog, the intriguing history and evolution of India’s nuclear energy program will be examined, with triumphs, difficulties, and the route forward being highlighted.
- India’s First Nuclear Reactor Operational status was achieved by India’s first nuclear reactor, Apsara, in 1956 at the Trombay campus in Mumbai. A significant milestone in India’s nuclear energy endeavours was marked by this event. Apsara was India’s nuclear research reactor primarily employed for scientific experiments and the production of radioisotopes for medical applications.
- Peaceful Nuclear Explosions in 1974, India’s commitment to peaceful nuclear utilisation was made evident through the conduct of its first peaceful nuclear explosion at Pokhran, Rajasthan. Codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” this test demonstrated India’s nuclear capabilities without causing harm to anyone. The global spotlight now had India’s nuclear ambitions.
- The Tarapur Nuclear Power Plant to address the increasing energy demands, India initiated its nuclear power program. In 1969, the Tarapur Nuclear Power Plant in Maharashtra became India’s first commercial nuclear power station. The commencement of India’s journey toward utilising nuclear energy in India for large-scale electricity generation was marked by this event.
- The Pokhran-II Tests in 1998, a series of nuclear tests at Pokhran, codenamed “Operation Shakti,” were conducted by India. These tests reaffirmed India’s commitment to maintaining a credible minimum deterrent and bolstered its status as a nuclear-armed nation. However, the tests faced international sanctions and criticism.
Public Perceptions of Nuclear Energy
Public acceptance of nuclear power production is deemed necessary if the viability of this energy source is to be ensured by governments. The trajectory, size, and reach of the industry on a global level have been shaped by widespread public opposition to nuclear energy, and this has resulted in the slowing of the growth of what was once a booming industry (Abdulla et al., 2019; EIA, 2020; Mazmanian and Morrell, 1994). Several factors that influence attitudes toward nuclear energy in India have been identified by previous India’s nuclear research.
India Nuclear Research Methodology
To investigate these hypotheses about public opinion on nuclear energy in India, a survey on issues related to energy sources, climate change, risk perceptions, and support for nuclear facility siting was developed and fielded among the Indian public. The design and implementation of the survey will be described in this section.
Policy implications and conclusions
Overall, our findings show that the Indian public strongly supports the growth of nuclear energy. This is clear given the desire to increase the proportion of power generated by nuclear power over the next two decades, as well as widespread support for the construction of new nuclear reactors in the country.
India’s nuclear energy resources are controlled by Uranium
The Nuclear Suppliers Club (NSG), a voluntary club of 46 countries that follows specific rules for exporting uranium as well as the technology to build nuclear reactors, guards the technology zealously. Its policies are mostly influenced by rich countries, and many in the developing world condemn it for limiting their access to a source of energy that could help them meet their growing energy demand.
In 2018, 20 years since its five nuclear tests were conducted, known as Operation Shakti–98, and 10 years since the India – U.S Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008, also called the 123 Agreement, were commemorated by India.
On November 5, 2018, it was declared by India that its nuclear triad, as stated in its nuclear doctrine, had become operational after a milestone was achieved by the indigenous ballistic missile nuclear submarine INS Arihant, which conducted its first deterrence patrol.
A total capacity of 6.7 GWe (Giga Watt Electricity) is delivered by nuclear power in India, contributing about 2% of the country’s electricity supply. Ambitious plans to increase nuclear power generation capacity to 275 GWe by 2052 are held by India.
Due to its weapons program, India is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and for 34 years, it was largely excluded from trade in nuclear plants and materials, which hampered the development of civil nuclear energy in India until 2009. A nuclear fuel cycle has been uniquely developed by India due to earlier trade bans and a lack of indigenous uranium, aiming to exploit its reserves of thorium.
India’s Nuclear energy program
The possibility of tapping India’s nuclear energy for power generation has been consciously explored by India. The Atomic Energy Act of 1962 was framed and implemented with the set objectives of utilising two naturally occurring elements, Uranium and Thorium, which have good potential to be used as nuclear fuel in Indian Nuclear Power Reactors.
Nuclear technology presents genuine problems, including safety and waste management. Incidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima are regarded as serious causes for concern.
NPPs like Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu and Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh have experienced several delays due to challenges related to land acquisition. India’s nuclear supply is severely restricted by sanctions imposed against it, as it is not a signatory of the NPT and NSG.
This situation changed after the 2009 waiver and the signing of bilateral civil nuclear energy agreements with many countries. Boosting reprocessing and enrichment capacity is also required in India. Advanced technology is needed for India to fully utilize the spent fuel and enhance its enrichment capacity.
On the front of infrastructure and manpower needs, significant efforts have been made by India for the development of industrial infrastructure to manufacture equipment and for skill development. Engineering manpower for NPPs is provided by many universities and institutes.
At EuroSchool, your teens will learn about India’s nuclear energy in depth. Nuclear energy knowledge is important for every kid to know and to ensure safety and security every citizen needs to know.
To ensure the safety and security of nuclear power utilisation, the following actions need to be taken:
- The maintenance of the skills base should be ensured.
- Continued effective safety regulation should be maintained.
- Serious consideration must be given to fostering progress on facilities for waste disposal and management.
- International non-proliferation arrangements should be maintained and reinforced.